RTTNews - The Singapore stock market has ended higher in consecutive trading sessions, collecting more than 55 points or 2 percent on its way to a fresh 11-month closing high. The Straits Times Index is closing on the 2,660-point plateau, and analysts suggest that the market could inch higher and break through that barrier when it kicks off trade on Monday.
The global forecast for the Asian markets offers little in the way of guidance as commodities and financials are tipped to continue to rise, but weakness among the technology shares could erase those gains. The European and U.S. markets finished in mixed fashion, although not too far from the unchanged line in either direction - and the Asian bourses are tipped to follow that lead.
The STI finished modestly higher on Friday, although profit taking in the afternoon erased more significant gains from the morning session. Gains among the financials and telecoms were offset somewhat by selling among the property stocks.
For the day, the index was up 23.01 points or 0.87 percent to close at 2,659.20 after trading between 2,635.23 and 2,659.45. Volume was 2.84 billion shares worth 2.48 billion Singapore dollars. There were 350 gainers and 233 decliners, with 759 stocks finishing unchanged.
Among the actives, DBS Group, United Overseas Bank, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp, Singapore Telecom and Chartered Semiconductor all finished higher, while City Developments was unchanged and Singapore Airlines, CapitaLand and Keppel Land ended lower.
The lead from Wall Street is inconclusive as stocks finished Friday's session on a mixed note after a shaky start prompted by gross domestic product figures for the second quarter. The major averages closed on opposite sides of the unchanged mark amid another session that was marred by low volume, typical of the summer.
Early trading was swayed by an advance report on second quarter gross domestic product from the Commerce Department. While the report revealed that the U.S. economy continued to shrink by a slower than expected margin, trader concern grew as consumer consumption came in far lower than expected. According to the data, gross domestic product fell at a pace of 1 percent for the second quarter after economists had expected GDP to fall at a rate of 1.5 percent. Some pessimism was generated by the personal consumption figure in the report, which showed a decrease of 1.2 percent, significantly more than economists had been expecting. This followed a 0.6 percent increase in the first quarter.
Later in the morning, traders largely shrugged off the Institute of Supply Management-Chicago's manufacturing index for July, which came in slightly higher than expected at 43.4. Economists expected the business barometer index to come in at 43 after rising by 5 points to 39.9 in June.
With earnings season drawing to a close, Disney (DIS) and Monster Worldwide (MWW) reported earnings that beat forecasts, while oil giant Chevron (CVX) disappointed. The season's earnings results largely beat expectations, but for the most part due to cost cutting measures rather than revenue growth in a market constricted by the recession.
After hovering in positive territory throughout much of the trading session, the major averages ended the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line. The tech heavy NASDAQ fell by 5.80 points or 0.3 percent to 1,978.50, while the Dow closed up by 17.15 points or 0.2 percent at 9,171.61 and the S&P 500 rose 0.73 points or 0.1 percent to 987.48. Despite the mixed performance for the session, the major averages all closed higher for the week due largely to Thursday's rally. The Dow rose 0.9 percent for the week, while the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 posted weekly gains of 0.6 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.
In economic news, Singapore's seasonally adjusted jobless rate stood at 3.3 percent in the second quarter, unchanged from the first quarter, a preliminary report by the Ministry of Manpower said on Friday. Economists expected the rate to be 3.7 percent. The jobless rate of the residents decreased to 4.6 percent from 4.8 percent in the preceding quarter. During the quarter, there were 91,800 unemployed residents, down from 95,700 in the first quarter.
Also, tourist arrivals into Singapore dropped 8.9 percent year-on-year in June to 750,000, the country's Tourism Board said. Tourist arrivals from China, Japan and South Korea declined mainly due to the global outbreak of swine flu. However, of the top 15 tourist markets, arrivals from Malaysia rose 15.3 percent, from Vietnam by 3.2 percent and from Indonesia by 3.1 percent.
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